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China's 2,000-strong air marshals start work
Updated: 2004-08-26 15:12

China's new 2,000-strong air marshal force has started work on international and domestic routes after nearly three years of preparations triggered by the September 11 attacks, a news report said.

The plain-clothes force is being deployed on more than 1,000 flights, and on some "sensitive" routes they would be assisted by additional security personnel, the China Youth Daily reported Thursday.

Airport security was good already, making hijackings and other acts of terrorism relatively rare in China, which means the air marshals may not have much work to do, the paper said.

So they would be charged with additional jobs such as stopping passengers from smoking or using cellphones, or preventing them from taking other passengers' seats, according to the paper.

The report did not address the issue of how this additional list of responsibilities might compromise the need for air marshals to be strictly undercover and unrecognizable to potential terrorists.

Sixty percent of the new force is made up of existing airline security personnel who have received extra training, with volunteers from the police force making up the rest.

All have been given rigorous courses in arrest techniques, negotiating tactics and crisis management, the report said.

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